NBAA Convention News

PrivatAir expands to global proportions

 - June 11, 2008, 11:38 AM

Founded in 1976 as the air arm of the Latsis shipping group, PrivatAir until recently catered exclusively to the top end of the executive charter market with a fleet consisting of a Gulfstream IV, a Boeing 737-300, three BBJs and a Boeing 757, all based at Geneva International Airport. Then the company announced the acquisition of Transair’s fixed-base operation at Le Bourget Airport in Paris and Flight Services Group (FSG) in Stratford, Conn., giving it solid legs to stand on in France, the European Union and the U.S.

After the integration of the two newly acquired business units, PrivatAir is now headed by David Hurley (who founded FSG in 1984) as CEO, with Hugh Regan of FSG as CFO. Greg Thomas is COO, and Capt. Christopher Randle was appointed executive v-p of operations. Marketing and development of new business is the responsibility of v-p Dave Kinson. The team is operating from FSG’s main base in Stratford, Conn., and PrivatAir’s headquarters in Geneva, managing a combined workforce of 250 employees.

“PrivatAir used to have a single product line–executive charter. Now we are offering five or six products, including ground services, corporate shuttle and aircraft management,” noted Kinson.

In addition to normal executive charter, PrivatAir’s Geneva branch also specializes in private holiday travel, including round-the-world tours, for affluent groups and individuals. This service is provided by the company’s fleet of BBJs with cabins in 16-, 28- and 46-seat configurations, plus the Boeing 757-200. For marketing its exclusive tours, including hotel services, the company has signed an agreement with tour operator Intrav, a subsidiary of the Swiss Kuoni travel group.

PrivatAir won FAR Part 129 foreign carrier approval allowing unlimited landing rights in the U.S. earlier this year, as well as 180-min ETOPS clearance from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation, allowing a more than one-hour saving on transatlantic flights with the BBJs. PrivatAir will move into a new airside building under construction at Geneva Airport early next year, and plans to build up to eight new hangars at various bases over the next couple of years.

FSG is among the largest providers of corporate aircraft management, executive charter and aircraft sales and acquisitions in the U.S. The company operates a fleet of 48 aircraft from 17 bases throughout the country. Its fleet ranges from King Airs through small and large corporate jets up to an executive-configured DC-9. FSG is retaining its name for the time being, but is identified as part of PrivatAir. The group’s management is considering moving its 737-300 to Bridgeport and may also relocate one of its BBJs to the U.S.

With the acquisition of Transair Paris, PrivatAir has gained 35 percent of all air traffic handling at Le Bourget, Europe’s busiest executive aviation airport. The company plans to invest substantially in its infrastructure in Paris.